GCC reduces winter session classes

Glendale Community College has cut the number of winter session classes by 40% in the last two years — a result of the ongoing budget crisis plaguing public education institutions up and down the state, officials said.

It is the second consecutive year that the college has slashed winter session classes, which start Jan. 3, in an effort to save money. Glendale Community College will offer 165 credit classes for the 2011 winter session, down 10% compared with this past winter, which had suffered a 30% reduction from 2009, said Mary Mirch, vice president of instructional services.

"We are doing everything we can to accommodate as many students as we can, but we do have budget constraints that we have to respect," Mirch said.

The class reductions have saved the college about $425,000, said Ron Nakasone, executive vice president of administrative services.

The six-week winter session runs from Jan. 3 to Feb. 10, and is designed to help students accelerate their studies by making courses available in between the traditional fall and winter semesters.

Priority registration began on Nov. 8, and all classes were full in about 48 hours, said college Supt./President Dawn Lindsay.

Those who were not able to get classes are being encouraged to add their name to waiting lists because the college does dis-enroll students who don't pay, she said.

"What the budget crisis has done is students are very quick to make sure they use priority registration if they have it," Lindsay said. "In the past, people dawdled. That doesn't happen anymore."

College officials prioritized the classes that will be offered using guidelines established by the California Community College Chancellor's Office, including transferability, basic skill needs and workforce development, Mirch said.

Frustration among students was palpable on campus this week. Cindy Orphali, 18, said she was assigned a third-day registration slot for winter session. When it came time for her to select a class, there were no openings.

"I am stuck at No. 19 on the waiting list for dance," she added.

A member of the women's basketball team, 18-year-old Marianna Azizian had first-day registration priority. But when she logged on to the registration system at her appointed time, she said she found that many of the classes were already full. She ended up in a basic math class.

"You could waste another year here just because you couldn't get the classes you want," she said. "That is why a lot of people stay here for three or four years."

The class reductions affect students and college staff alike, Lindsay said.

Tenured professors are given first right of refusal for classes, meaning that part-time and adjunct professors are being offered fewer teaching opportunities.

And with the state facing another multibillion-dollar budget shortfall, there is no sign that the college's financial position will improve any time soon. Last year, Glendale Community College was serving 3,000 more students than what it was being funded for, officials said.

"I think what people need to understand is the budget crisis is going to continue to get worse before it gets better," Lindsay said.

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